Friday, November 30, 2012

Funny doctor (well, it was a digital watch).

I've been having this stiff neck, so I went to see the doctor. "How are you today?" he asked cheerfully. So I started to automatically reply, just as cheerfully: "I'm well, thank...". Wait a minute. Why am I at the doctor's if I'm feeling fine? So, dear doctors everywhere, don't try that "trick question" on us, hor. On the other hand, the world does need funny doctors.

Anyway, I found this funny "doctor and patient" video:


And here's another funny doctor joke:

During a visit to my doctor, I asked him, "How do you determine whether or not an older person should be put in an old age home?"

"Well," he said, "we fill up a bathtub, then we offer a teaspoon, a teacup and a bucket to the person to empty the bathtub."

"Oh, I understand," I said. "A normal person would use the bucket because it is bigger than the spoon or the teacup."

"No" he said. "A normal person would pull the plug. Do you want a bed near the window?"


Last one. Samuel Goldwyn is supposed to have made this quip: "Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined."

Thursday, November 29, 2012

If you're happy and you know it, achieve less! (apologies to the song 'If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands!')

Why are Singaporeans so concerned about what others think of us? Who cares about that Gallup world survey that ranked the Little Red Dot at the bottom of the heap when it comes to "expressing emotions"?

And why are we so hung up about being happy? ST ran this story below (Nov 29) with the headline "S'poreans achieving more but are less happy: Survey"...

Now. as everyone knows, the headline above suggests an inverse relationship in the happiness-achievement nexus. So, what's the solution?

Less achievement = More happiness!



Next, should Singaporeans
1) be unhappy 2) can't be bothered 3) get emotional 4) can't be bothered
5) all of the above 6) can't be bothered even to pick choice No 5
about this national flag gaffe?...

Here's's story about how China's flag was mistaken for Singapore's flag!...

Incidentally, the foot-in-the-mouth Forbes story above is about yet another global survey, this one by the Economist which ranked Singapore as the sixth best place to be born in this year (2013). Um, your response again please, to choices 1-6 above.


I think Malaysian happenings are more fun to follow, at least, with regard to what goes on in their Parliament:


Speaking of toilets, I have previously blogged about a survey (yes, there's a survey for everything) that found quite a number of people had at some time dropped their cellphone down the toilet bowl. So, here's a helpful video by Minute Hacks on what to do in such an event. It is titled "How to save your phone from water damage":


Most countries have an air force; this one has an air farce...


Finally, for the sake of closure, I'll post here this update on that People's Daily gaffe...

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Why reading the papers is still great fun...

I have neither read Stephanie Meyer's Twilight book series nor seen the spun-off movies but this reviewer's article in TODAY (Nov 28, below) caught my eye. I am putting it here as an example of very good and witty prose:


Read Twilight: There are crucial lessons to be learnt from fifty shades of pale
by Jeremy Fernando 
Twilight. You know the movie. Now read the books.
I'm not claiming that Stephanie Meyer will know literature if it smacks her in the head. But I will categorically state: Meyer's The Twilight Saga is essential reading.
Yes, despite her bumbling attempts at writing, Meyer inadvertently offers us a glimpse of the intricacies of human relationships. Everyone knows the basic plot: Vampire (Edward Cullen) and werewolf (Jacob Black) -- who are natural sworn enemies -- fight over human girl (Isabella "Bella" Swan).
At this point, do momentarily set aside any feminist instincts and refrain from lunging at the fact that it is banal to name the female protagonist "girl".
And put aside the fact that this is basically the storyline of Romeo And Juliet. Shakespeare's error was in developing rounded characters but Meyer makes no such mistake. By offering us flat, one-dimensional, caricatures she demonstrates to us the modern condition of communication.
Where speech between people does not reveal anything, is not meant to have any meaning, but is instead merely for effect; purely performative.
In other words: It's phatic communication. Which is not to say that it is not important.
We know that it is not always a "good morning". That uttering it to each other is merely ritualistic. But try not saying it the next time you run into an acquaintance, a co-worker, or your boss. The very reality of your social existence depends on that performance.
For, it is not that illusions, or appearances, allow us to deceive ourselves, ease our reality. Reality itself is sustained by illusion. This is the lesson of Stalinism.
When Nikita Khrushchev denounced Stalin at what is now known as the Secret Party Congress in 1956, the reactions ranged from congress members collapsing in shock, a few dying of heart attacks later, and a couple more committing suicide. All because Khrushchev called Stalin a mass-murdering dictator -- something that everyone already knew.
But just because one knows it, doesn't mean it can be said. (Ever tried being honest when someone you know asks if they've put on a few pounds?)
Thing is, in reading The Twilight Saga, we should not make the error of most detractors -- who focus on the weak plot, complete misunderstanding of the vampire myth, the insipid romance, et cetera -- and instead take the appearances for what they are. And listen closely (in true Edward Cullen mind-reading fashion) for what the protagonists are attempting to do through what they say.
This alters the usual notion of meaning from signification (semantics, semiotics) to significance (the effects of words on the discourse, and more importantly on other people).
And this leads us to the core of the series: In particular, the much-maligned notion of celibacy that Meyer is supposed to be promoting. Her critics zoom in on the fact that it is rather incongruous to mix abstinence (until marriage) and a mythology that is clearly sexual. But this is where they have all missed the point.
There is no contradiction between celibacy and sexuality here. In fact, the entire saga is about nothing but sex: There is bestiality (Bella and Jacob), necrophilia (Bella and Edward), (alleged) interspecies attraction (Edward and Jacob) -- if not always actualised, certainly strongly suggested. And celibacy is the hinge around which all of these desires rotate.
Philosopher Jean Baudrillard wrote in his book, Seduction: "The great stars or seductresses never dazzle because of their talent or intelligence, but because of their absence. They are dazzling in their nullity, and in their coldness ..."
It is not that Bella actively attempts to seduce Edward or Jacob. It is precisely by doing nothing that she is so seductive. In that way, she can be whatever they want her to be.
This is not nothingness as an absence; this is nothingness as full possibility. By doing absolutely nothing, but saying practically nothing, Bella has made herself into the perfect object.
The Twilight Saga is what author Neil Strauss' The Game could have been: If only it did not take itself so seriously. Being caught up in a "hunter" mentality, Strauss' error was in supposing that the one seduced had to be pursued -- in short, he completely misunderstood the game itself.
The one thing that he got right is that there is always a prize at stake. His blunder was in not realising that the seducee sets herself up to be pursued: That she is not a stake, but instead a lure. What is at stake is your very self.
Oscar Wilde famously quipped: "Women are not meant to be understood, they are meant to be loved." One should never make the mistake of taking this to be advice - it is a warning. For one can only love an object.
It is only by making themselves truly enigmatic, truly unknowable, that women are transformed into objects. That is their secret -- the alleged weakness that is their strength.
In Stephenie Meyer's saga, we catch a glimpse of how.
Jeremy Fernando is the Jean Baudrillard Fellow at The European Graduate School. You can find his writings at This article first appeared in the Singapore Review Of Books website (http://singaporereviewofbooks.og)

Meanwhile, did you notice this item in ST (Nov 28)?

There surely must have been a lot of red faces (and I mean "red" as in embarrassed, not as in communist) at the People's Daily! They are newspaper people and they have not heard of The Onion, famed for its spoofs?

Anyway, here's a follow-up AFP story, on the xin.msn site:

China paper backpedals after falling for Kim spoof

There is great excitement over the film premiere of the first of the Hobbit trilogy. But, looking at this ST Life! headline, someone wasn't a fan?...
Okay, on to more serious stuff. Both ST and TODAY ran this insightful New York Times article on what Japan has started to do in the face of a rising China:
The above is ST's headline; TODAY's headline for the story was "Japan, faced with rising China, shifts its strategy":
One last article worth a read, also from TODAY:
Return of emerging market political risk (by Ian Bremmer)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The train.

Imagine four people seated inside a train compartment: an old woman, a pretty young girl, a high-ranking military officer, and a lowly-ranked soldier.

Watch this Iranian (yes, the mullahs do have a sense of humour, eh?) video for what happened after the train entered a tunnel...

Monday, November 26, 2012

Rolling with the future Asia-Pacific; and rolling with the Stones too.

There is no lack of "analysis to the point of paralysis" by commentators on how China's rise -- ceteris paribus -- to eventually become a full-fledged great power will affect global and regional politics. The problem with many of these pundits is that they do not stick with one overriding framework about states' behaviour in their arguments.

This is why I find the assessments by Yuriko Koike, a former Japanese Defence Minister, refreshing. She sticks with Realist assumptions in her commentaries on the Asia-Pacific region. Her recent Project Syndicate piece, "It's kowtow or cooperate in Asia", and reproduced in TODAY (Nov 26), is worth a read, from either website :

Here is an extract:

International orders emerge either by consensus or through force. The great task for Mr Obama, incoming Chinese President Xi Jinping, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the new Japanese and South Korean leaders who will come to power following elections in December, and all ASEAN members is to ensure that consensus prevails in Asia without stoking China's greatest strategic fear - encirclement.

As everyone in Asia should recognise, whenever communist China has deemed that it faced such a threat, it has resorted to war - in Korea in 1950, India in 1962, the Soviet Union in 1969 and Vietnam in 1979.

But fear of provoking China should not stop Asia's leaders from seeking a regional security consensus, such as the proposed code of conduct for disputes in the South China Sea. Only the weakest of Asian states will submit willingly to Chinese hegemony - or, for that matter, to a Cold War-style US-led containment strategy.

 Indeed, the idea that Asian countries must choose between a Chinese or American future is false. But can Asia's fear of hegemony and China's fear of military encirclement be reconciled?


News-wise, the world has now learnt that China has started practising combat aircraft landings and take-offs from its sole aircraft carrier, the Liaoning. Here's TODAY's story (Nov 26):

Several things should be noted:
* The Liaoning, an old Soviet-era aircraft carrier, is not a supercarrier which can carry about 80 aircraft from the workhorse transporter to the eye-in-the-sky early warning and control planes to the multi-role fighter jets. The US has about a dozen of this class of "flat-tops".
* The J-15 fighter jet that carried out the landings and take-offs, is a navalised copy of the Russian Sukhoi Su-33. One must assume that the Chinese have sorted out any kinks associated with the navalisation project, and that this rather heavy fighter's engines are super-reliable. Under operational conditions, even in peacetime, there has to be continual practice sorties day in day out, and in all weather conditions.
* Notably, the Chinese have resorted to a "ski ramp" for the J-15's take-offs. This is less efficient than the Americans' method -- steam catapult-assisted take-offs.
* There is just one Chinese carrier now; it will have to be taken off sea duty for maintenance, repairs and refits. In all likelihood, it may just simply be a "test-bed". The Americans have the luxury of having, say, half their carrier fleet in some stages of not-at-sea status while the other half is in full operational mode.
* Finally, I am not sure if the carrier is still a navy's primary capital ship. A carrier has to be protected by its strike group; a time may come when a carrier strike group's "invincibilty" is called into question. The Liaoning's propulsion, moreover, is non-nuclear which means highly vulnerable oilers (ships that supply the fuel oil) have to be part of its strike group. To get into the supercarrier league, Chinese flat-tops have to go nuclear power.

It'll be interesting to see how China develops its carrier strike groups from scratch. But it won't be a matter of a few years. A decade or even more (much more?) is probably a decent bet, ceteris paribus, of course.


Now for two items I'll rather happily put here. The first is the news that Psy -- Mr Gangnam Style -- is coming to Singapore. Here is's story:

The second is: The Rolling Stones are 50 years old! And the group is celebrating with anniversary concerts, the first of which kicked off in London's O2 Arena on Sunday. Here's CNN's story:

Apparently, the group left out from Sunday night's set list their hit song, Satisfaction. It's a shame.Well, I'm putting the YouTube video clip here (note: it's an early recording, when Jagger had more hair!):

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Emote! Smile, not smilence, please...

Singaporeans the world's "most emotionless" people?

That's right, says a Gallup poll. And we are bottom of the heap in the poll's ranking of 150 countries/territories. The study was conducted over three years:

The AFP story above includes these quotes:

"Where got time to laugh? Wake up, must fight for place on trains, lunch time, must fight for place to sit down and eat, go home must fight for place on trains," Edward Alexzandra Peters wrote on Facebook.

Kok Leong commented on Yahoo! Singapore: "It's so stressful to be living in Singapore. Our mind is all about $$$ -- how to survive, how to raise family, tax, etc. Nothing is free here."

Another commentator wrote on Yahoo: "We have everything, and yet we have nothing. No one in this country actually lives life to the fullest; we merely exist. To our government, we are nothing more than a statistic."

"How can Singaporeans be the most emotionless in the world when they complain the most every day? I'm baffled," said a post by Melody on Twitter.

Gallup said it surveyed about 1,000 respondents 15 years old and above in each country annually between 2009 and 2011. They were asked if they felt five positive and five negative emotions the previous day.

The negative feelings were anger, stress, sadness, physical pain, and worry, while the positive emotions were feeling well-rested, being treated with respect, enjoyment, smiling and laughing a lot, and learning or doing something interesting.

Only 36 per cent of Singaporeans said they felt any of the emotions, Gallup said.


Well, I am glad that some Singaporeans have succeeded in making us laugh. Among them on my list is this man, Mr Toh Kia Hing. He featured in (so far) two spoof videos as the so-called Hokkien-speaking "massage therapist" stressed out by having to cope with willing sexy models who turn putty in his hands:

Here's a short extract from the story above:

[Mr Toh, whose day job is that of a sound engineer] said laughs and giggles filled the set when he rehearsed his lines and nothing sleazy went on: “The girls were fun to work with. One of them even thanked me for a good massage.”

Asked if he had ever considered being a massage therapist, he said: “I have been a soundman for more than 30 years and I’d rather massage a microphone than a woman because it doesn’t nag.”


Meanwhile, I am still amused by some of the stuff from

This one is titled "English Words with Chinese Characteristics":

Here's a list of such words and their etymology (some of them are very good!):



Saturday, November 24, 2012

Bless the Beasts and the Children.

I'm glad continues to report on the unnecessary and tragic death of Wen Wen the bottlenose dolphin:

In tribute to Wen Wen, I am putting here The Carpenters' "Bless the Beasts and the Children" YouTube video:

Friday, November 23, 2012

Why dolphins should be allowed to live free!

The dolphin -- a bottlenose -- was named Wen Wen. Activists had tried so hard to have all the 27 captured dolphins, orginally from the waters of the Solomon Islands, freed and returned to those waters while they were being quarantined in the Philippines before being taken to Singapore. Now Wen Wen is no more (two others had died earlier; now 24 remain).


BBC Natural World: Saved by Dolphins

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Hilarious Chinese to English translations.

I came across this excellent site called "Offbeat China":

It has serious social and political commentaries that are worth checking out. But I'll just highlight the site's wackier offering titled "Hilarious Chinese to English Translations":

Here are some of the examples featured:

(This is, after all, a mainland Chinese site!)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Active agers... with an attitude!

Before you see the stuff below:

"Live well, love much, laugh often"!


And finally, a study has found that
Senior citizens are the leading carriers of Aids and HIV...

Scroll down....

Hearing Aids
Walking Aids
Medical Aids
Government Aids
And... Monetary Aids to their kids

That's Hair Is Vanishing

(Thanks to fellow baby boomer Ah Swan for posting this.)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Staying active, physically and mentally...

Active ageing

Here's one man's method, entitled "Never leave the playground":


What about active mental ageing? Try this:



I should mention that the Sleeper article in yesterday's blog piece had this interesting link:

A deep, dark, secret love affair: A team of IDF officers, known as the `Mexicans,' helped Singapore establish an army. It was the start of a very special relationship.


My banana saga: Closure at last

Those bananas finally ripened. And they were very sweet! They are not "lemons" after all'.


Finally, to wrap up, here's an story with a hilarious video clip (remember the Hokkien-speaking masseure to nubile women who claimed his job was very, very stressful? Well, he's back in a "sequel", so click on the link in the story):

Singapore's most popular childhood dream jobs

Monday, November 19, 2012

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Dry Bones

There is a Biblical reference to "the valley of dry bones" (Ezekiel) which inspired a popular spiritual song that's also an interesting anatomy lesson. I found a version of Dry Bones I like, by the Kings Heralds. The second video clip here is an animated one, of dancing skeletons! Watch both...

Dry Bones

The Skeleton Dance

(Note: this is a "mirror version", so left is right, and right is left!)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Getting that grammatical point across, with humour...

This is pretty cute...

An example of bad grammar -- and all in one ad (spotted by KA):


Going back in time, baby boomers will be familiar with these posters:

What's wrong with that famous tag-line, "Two is enough"? Should it not be "Two are enough"? And all that time, no one pointed out this glaring error. We were too busy complying (Just follow hor/just follow lor).

Able-bodied humans have two feet. So, if you try to do this...'s just not possible! This idiom is correctly used in the article heading below:

But grammar sticklers sometimes come up against a wise guy:

But unless you can use such wit to disarm a grammarian, stick with the "good usage" rules, like this one:

Or this one (which I've previously used)...

Finally, just about everyone -- grammarians too, I am sure -- is guilty of using abbreviations and dropping the grammar rules when sending text messages...

Is such a practice acceptable?
i dun know
wat's yr prblm

Friday, November 16, 2012

The beauty is a beast, and other quirky stuff...

Singapore, they say, is a fine city. Fines are imposed for all sorts of "inappropriateness", such as this one, spotted at an overhead pedestrian bridge:

Leaving aside the fine being pretty hefty ($1,000!), a ride down looks daunting:

But someone must have tried such a stunt, hence the sign. Meanwhile, there is at least one place (there are more, I'm sure) where walking is not allowed:

But I guess running, handstanding, breakdancing, cartwheeling, etc, within the bus park is okay. Just don't walk, hor.

Turning to product labels, when it comes to the crunch, take on the outrageous salad:

And if the supply of "unnatural" raisins has run out, heck, just use the natural stuff:

Or real apples, in the case of cider:

They got it wrong when they asked, "If pigs can fly"? It's fish that can fly, and this one below is not even a flying fish...

This bottle's label is intriguing...

 Food (for humans) that comes from "essence of plant"? Haha, here's the full label:

This "beast" is a "beauty"?...

Kiasu parents will lap up this ad, for their kids...

It must be an ad drawn up a crafty legal mind... none of the statements above actually connect to each other, so there's no cause-and-effect claim that's being made.

If this call for volunteer research participants is to be believed, there are "males and females of childbearing potential" AND "males and females of non-childbearing potential"...

Free parents are available in this ad below:


Finally, remember that site? It has some quirky "mug shots":